Thursday, December 30, 2004

Hens and Roosters

"Mom, am I a hen or a rooster?"

This is the question I got about a year ago as TinyTuna attempted to use a public restroom. It was a legitimate question for a then-nine year old. After all, we live in suburbia, not on Old McDonald's farm. And although she has been forcibly dipped into the scary waters of elementary school sex education health class, her information comes from Slim Goodbody, not the Subservient Chicken.

Perhaps it would have helped if there were a graphic (preferably human) to go along with the cute fowl-inspired bathrooms. Or maybe the hens and roosters could be wearing a tell-tale item of clothing, or some garish red lipstick. But then again, Do chickens have lips?

If you ask me, the VERY LAST place anybody should be creative is on a bathroom door. When one is stampeding to the bathroom, there is simply no time to ponder graphics and word games. I have actually seen a women's restroom labeled as Wopeople. I'm sure someone somewhere thinks it is cute, because heaven forbid someone place the word men on a women's bathroom.

Har Har Har. Spare Me.

This year on vacation we were faced with another bathroom dilemma. This time there was no text at all. Each door had a large wooden crab. One had an eyepatch and a captains hat, and the other had long eyelashes and rosy cheeks. There were no other directions or clues. You simply had to make your best guess and go.

TinyTuna was so amused by these bathroom doors, she gave me a guided tour later in the evening.

Of course, you would correctly guess that the eyepatched captain-hatted crab was for boys. But I take exception to that stereotype, whether it applies to crustaceans, or people with full bladders. There were such things as girl pirates, and certainly they might have worn eyepatches or a captains hat. As for eyelashes and rosy cheeks, I don't think women have a corner on that market. Besides, I've never seen a crab (male or female) emerge from the sea looking like an oceanic streetwalker.

So please, please, please, spare me the buoys and gulls, the bucks and does, the hens and roosters and the Crabbys and Nabbys.

Men and women will do just fine.


TVJ said...

Yeah, but those are all better than the place out here that has their bathroom signs in the shapes of arrows. The Women's room sign is on the door of the Men's room, and points to the Women's room door .. and vice versa. Yep. Think about THAT after a few cocktails.

Jay Ann Cox, PhD said...

Speaking of rosy cheeks and eyeliner, Johnny Depp's pirate certainly did well in that department.

When I was about TT's age, the family was at Shakey's Pizza, and I accidentally touched THE MEN'S ROOM DOOR and opened it about three inches. My brother was on the other side and laughed. I was mortified.

I still double-check. Unless the line is too long and the men's room at the dive bar is free.

Anonymous said...

Our workplace rooms of rest are single occupancy only, so the gender question shouldn't apply. However, several women who work in my department go up three flights of stairs where there are the standard multiple user, gender attributed bathrooms, rather than use ours because--get this--a man might have used the bathroom or they might see a man coming out or a man might see them coming out. I wonder what they do at home....

No additional comment needed.

Margaret said...

As my daughter and I travel while living here in Germany, I think there should be an international symbol for the gender of the bathroom. Occasionally some do use the chicken/rooster picture, but other times, they use their native language (that I usually can't translate). Nothing like keeping an eye on the bathroom door to see who comes out so you will know which to use.